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Businesses, ag producers encouraged to consider REAP Grants

The application period for the 2021 Rural Energy for America Program, better known as the REAP, funding cycle is open now until March 31, 2021 and businesses in the rural parts and agricultural producers all across of the Silver State that may be eyeing future investments in renewable energy or energy efficiency upgrades are encouraged to consider the program.

“With Nevada’s sunny skies and windy valleys, you might think rural programs to increase energy efficiency and renewable energy systems for businesses would be as popular as popcorn on a cold winter’s night. But for USDA Rural Development Energy Coordinator Laura Chavez, getting rural businesses and agricultural producers to apply for the Rural Energy for America Program funds hasn’t always been easy,” a news release from the USDA Nevada Rural Development stated.

“You would think that with a grant that provides up to 25% of the total project cost that we would have lots of interest but in many years, that’s just not the case,” Chavez was quoted as saying. “Sometimes the business needs don’t match up or the investment doesn’t quite pencil out for them.”

For small rural businesses and agricultural operations that are already looking to make upgrades with renewable energy or energy efficient systems such as LED lights, high-efficiency irrigation pivots or even new windows for their buildings, the REAP Grant can help shoulder the financial burden. However, for the last funding cycle, only $37,422 of the available $450,000 allocated for 2020 was awarded, simply because there were not enough eligible applicants requesting that funding.

The three projects that were awarded funds from the 2020 REAP Grant funding cycle are located in Overton, Caliente and Pahrump.

In Overton, the Overton Power District #5, a nonprofit electric utility serving 16,000 customers, will use its REAP funds totaling $24,324 to install a 33.6 kilowatt ground-mounted solar array that is expected to generate over 61,000 kilowatt hours of power annually.

The Caliente project comes from Nevada Bank and Trust, which plans to use its $5,187 grant to pay help pay for new, high-efficiency LED light fixtures, which will reduce the company’s energy usage by an estimated 25%, resulting in savings of about $2,000 per year.

Armscor in Pahrump, a firearms manufacturer located off Basin Avenue west of the Nevada DMV, was approved for a total of $7,911 in REAP Grant funding, which the company will also be using to install new LED lighting meant to save energy as well as to improve working conditions within the building. “With LED lights, the manufacturer expects to cut energy use by about 50%, saving nearly $3,000 annually,” the news release detailed.

The REAP Grant is open to businesses located in communities with a population of less than 50,000 people. Agricultural producers such as farmers and ranchers can be located in rural or non-rural parts of the state.

For more information on the REAP Grant program visit www.rd.usda.gov

To learn whether a specific rural energy project would be eligible for the 2021 funding contact Chavez at Laura.chavez@usda.gov or call 775-443-4764.

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